Benz has four owners in one month, State Farm says it's the rightful owner

David Yates Apr. 4, 2007, 5:00pm

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. has filed a petition for declaratory judgment against a Jefferson County resident who unknowingly purchased a car owned by the insurance company.

State Farm filed their lawsuit with the District Court on April 2. The company has retained the services of Dale "Rett" Holiday of the Germer Gertz law firm.

The suit involves a dispute over ownership of a stolen vehicle.

According to the plaintiff's petition, State Farm issued Dennis and Kathy Jackson a personal automobile policy covering one 1996 Mercedes Benz S500 Coupe.

On Aug. 3, 2006, the Jacksons agreed to sell the Benz to one James Taylor. It was later discovered that Taylor was an alias used by Will Pruitt.

Pruitt paid the Jacksons with a fake cashier's check and sped away with the luxury car. Thirteen days later he was arrested in Chambers County. He admitted to stealing the vehicle, the suit stated.

While the theft investigation was still ongoing, State Farm concluded that it was unlikely the vehicle would be recovered and wrote the vehicle off as a "total loss." On Aug. 22, the company issued payment to the Jacksons and a lien holder in full payment for the loss of the vehicle, the suit stated.

The suit does not state the worth of the vehicle.

In return for payment, the Jacksons signed over the lease to State Farm. The company has the title in its position and has submitted a copy as evidence.

Subsequently, the police located the vehicle and determined that it had been sold to C&D Imports in Jefferson County, who had already resold the vehicle to Vu Bang.

Bang has informed State Farm that he will not relinquish the vehicle without a fight, the petition stated.

Case assignment is pending.

Case No. B179030

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